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This was posted on my church website this morning. I thought it was good so I wanted to share:
One aspect of parenting gets overlooked by just about everyone. That aspect is the ability to be genuinely happy for other people.
And it's no wonder this gets often overlooked... most adults aren't too good at it either!
There is something special about a person who can see another person's success, material gain, or acknowledgements and be truly thrilled themselves.
It's certainly not human nature to feel this way.
For adults, it might manifest itself in seething that the neighbor just upgraded his vehicle or hating a person for being naturally thin.
For kids, it's always having to get a present on a sibling's birthday (after all, isn't that fair?), refusing to say something nice about a friend's new toy or saying that they don't even like an outfit that their friend has on (even though it's the one they've been wanting).
Breaking something that comes so very naturally is difficult and requires steady work on the part of the parents.
First, parents have to break that cycle themselves and practice being happy for other people. If you can't do it, don't expect your kids to.
Then, parents must talk about this behavior--- a lot. Have discussions with your children as you drive around or sit at the dinner table about how wonderful it is to share in someone else's happiness. Talk about the kind of person we would become if we could never be happy for other people.
Lastly, you must consciously practice this trait with your children. When you're at the store with one child, buy something together for the sibling-- and only the sibling. Talk about how your child can share and actually participate in the happiness by being excited and thrilled for the brother or sister.
You can also help your children to be happy for each other's successes. They should encourage each other when good report cards come home or when one receives some kind of recognition at school.
This kind of behavior practice not only sets the few children who master it apart from 99% of the kids out there (you do notice these few kids!), but it sets them up for a much happier life as an adult.
If the only happiness you can achieve is when something good happens to you, you miss out on a world of excitement. When you can be truly happy for others, life is a beautiful garden of wonderful moments.
I'm SO glad you posted this article, Lynne! It was so good. I started a thread a few days back about this very thing (only concerning adults) on the debate boards (I know you guys don't like that I go there....but, oh well.) The responses were so interesting. Some people said it is just fine not to be happy for others and that it's only human nature to be jealous. Others were bothered by it. It was starting to bother me on some other boards that people get nasty about when someone else has good news and they really want that same thing. That's what had me start that thread in the first place. There were some REALLY good ideas in that article. I'm filing them in my mind for use at a later date!!